Many thanks to Mike Rosen for this review & to Cutter for reprint permission.
This review originally appeared in the Nov. 7, 2007 Cutter Consortium Enterprise Architecture Advisory Service's E-Mail Advisor. Reproduced with permission of the publisher, Cutter Consortium (www.cutter.com).
Book Review: Architecture and Patterns for IT Service Management
by Mike Rosen, Director, Cutter Consortium Enterprise Architecture Practice
At first glance, the title might not sound especially sexy: Architecture and Patterns for IT Service Management, Resource Planning, and Governance: Making Shoes for the Cobbler's Children , by Charles T. Betz. However, this book addresses a little talked about problem that every single enterprise or IT organization has. In any case, if you're an architect, you're going to like this book for the wonderful architectural approach taken by the author. It has breadth, depth, perspectives, concepts, formal metamodels, and patterns -- all tied together in a nice tight bundle.
So, what exactly is the book about? It is about managing the business of IT; of understanding demand and relationships, solutions development, and operations and support. It's more than that as well; as the subtitle implies, it's about applying the tools and techniques (and in particular, architecture) that we normally apply to automating and operating our enterprises and businesses to the tasks of operating IT as a business.
Chapter 1 states the problem and the business case. It's no secret that many IT organizations struggle with costs, quality, and project failures. And while development costs and schedules continue to increase, operating expenses rise even faster, consuming more and more of the limited IT budget. The solutions industry proposes are no secret, either. Ranging from overused clichés like "run IT like a business," to architectures such as SOA or EA, to pass-the-buck approaches like outsourcing or Software-as-a-Service, the list is long and familiar. I particularly like the table the author compiles that lists and compares many of the different proposed solutions.
However, if we're going to "run IT like a business," we need to know what business we're in. That's the topic of Chapter 2, which describes the IT value chain. If you're familiar with business architecture, you'll recognize the techniques used, ranging from Michael Porter's value chain to Rummler and Brache's enterprise feedback models. The value chain plays a key role throughout the book. Betz divides the business of IT into supporting processes such as: architecture, sourcing, risk, security, governance, facility, and operations. Then he identifies the primary, value-adding processes of the IT value chain: demand/relationship management, solutions development, and service support. He further divides the primary value chain into parallel tracks of application, infrastructure, and what he calls the "hosting zone of contention." Each primary and secondary activity is described in detail and decomposed into smaller activities.
Now that we understand the problem, it's time to start understanding the solution. Chapter 3 takes a unique approach and first develops a formal information architecture, or what the book calls a "supporting data model." The model describes the different aspects of the primary and secondary processes, the information required to support them, their relationships, some ITIL-specific information, and some additional general IT concepts. A complete matrix maps the different entities to the different activities. Because the model is so clearly explained and developed, you can almost miss how complete and thorough it is -- that is, until you notice that 100 pages of the book have been devoted to it.
Chapter 4 continues with the analytical approach, this time developing what the book calls a "supporting systems architecture." In this context, systems are processes, functions, tools, and so on. Each primary and supporting activity and subactivity is addressed by some kind of system. Some example systems are: project management system, configuration control system, enterprise architecture system, and capacity planning system. Betz briefly describes each system, but more importantly, he identifies the relationships, gotchas, and overlaps with other systems. Finally, the book ties together all the systems around the concept of a configuration management database (CMDB).
Chapter 5 ties things together with "patterns for IT enablement." This chapter presents patterns for support of the primary and secondary processes of the value chain. Some example patterns are: front-end demand distinction, standard technology stack, security-configuration management synergy. Each pattern is described in detail and linked back to the supporting systems and information developed in the previous chapters.
You've probably guessed by now that I like this book. I'd recommend the book to any architect because it takes a quintessential architectural approach to looking at a problem. First, understanding the problem, then tying the solution to the business. Next, based on that framework, it develops a formal, analytical model of the solution space and proposes patterns for solutions built from the formal models. In doing so, it takes full advantage of the relationships that are evident and possible because of the underlying models. But, I'd also recommend the book to anyone who is involved in IT management, resource planning, or governance. You will have a better understanding of the problems you're dealing with after reading this book; so much so, that you'll wonder how things every worked before. Ah, but that's the catch: how well are they really working?
I welcome your comments on this Advisor and encourage you to send your insights on enterprise architecture strategies and practices in general to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.